Orban pays fealty to Trump at Mar-a-Lago

Orban pays fealty to Trump at Mar-a-Lago
Viktor Orban (left) and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on March 8. / bne IntelliNews
By Tamas Csonka in Budapest March 11, 2024

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met former US president and current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for talks at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on March 8.

The Hungarian delegation headed by Orban arrived at the resort in the afternoon and had an hour-long meeting with Donald Trump, followed by a dinner and concert. Orban wound up his three-day visit to the U.S without meeting with officials of the current administration.

This was the third encounter between the populist authoritarian leaders, who share the same views on many issues: migration, family policy and the need for peace talks in Ukraine.

Trump's campaign headquarters announced that the two discussed a "wide range of issues affecting Hungary and the United States, including the importance of strong and secure borders to protect the sovereignty of each nation".

In a video message after the meeting, Hungary’s strongman said: "The world would be better, and it would be better for Hungary if President Donald Trump returned to power."

Orban claimed that during Trump's presidency there was peace in the Middle East and Ukraine, and these wars would not exist today if Trump were still the US president.

Trump did not spare his praise for the Hungarian leader, saying "no one is better, smarter, or a better leader than him".

In a rare interview on state television on Sunday night, Orban gave an account of his visit to the United States and his meeting with Trump.

The former president had "ended wars in his first four years" as well as being "the first president in a long time not to start a war".

According to Orban, Trump made clear that he wanted the war in Ukraine to end and for peace to be established. "I don't see anyone else as determined and strong as Donald Trump," he said.

He called US-Hungary political ties "especially bad today", and said the purpose of his visit was to restore relations between allies.

He characterised the Washington government as "pro-war" and his government’s position as “pro-peace”, a communication narrative used by the Orban government for criticising Western assistance to help Ukraine’s resistance.

Orban also maintains good political and economic relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has only half-heartedly supported Western sanctions against Moscow.  For more than one and half years he delayed the ratification of Sweden’s Nato membership, a move seen by allies as serving Russian interests.

Orban accused the US government of openly giving money to Hungary's left-wing opposition, journalists, media and civil organisations to achieve a change of government. "Of course, this damages relations; we are allies, not servants," he claimed.

Orban's political director Balazs Orban (no relation) said the Biden administration had shown Hungary "ideological hostility", even though Hungary was a good Nato ally which spent well above 2 percent of GDP on defence policy and contributed to numerous alliance missions.

He recalled that while Democrats finance Hungary's left-wing opposition, many Republicans, on the other hand, saw Hungary as a model and an important European ally.

In a speech in Atlanta, President Joe Biden stated that freedom would be the foundation of the November vote and he criticised Trump for praising leaders such as Hungary's radical rightwing prime minister.

"Yesterday, he welcomed Viktor Orban to his club, who says he doesn't believe democracy works, calling him an extraordinary leader. Seriously? He praised Xi Jinping, calling him a king. He told Putin to do whatever he wants with our allies. When he says he wants to be a dictator, I believe him!" Biden said.